The Top 10 Biggest Recalls of 2013

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CARS.COM — Each year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issues recalls on millions of cars, trucks and SUVs. These recalls are ordered to help ensure the safety of drivers and passengers in cars on America’s highways. In 2012, NHTSA recalled just shy of 18 million, and 15.5 million in 2011. While some recalls affect just a handful of vehicles, others impact millions of cars and their owners. Some recalls are ordered for safety reasons, while others address the risk of other potential problems with a particular car.

Related: NHTSA Mandates Label to Distinguish Recalls From Junk Mail

So far this year, the biggest recall campaign is technically not a recall at all. In June, we reported that NHTSA had requested Chrysler fix 2.7 million Jeep SUVs — 1993-2004 Grand Cherokee and 2002-07 Liberty models — due to a potential fuel-system problem that could cause a risk of fire in a rear-end crash. Jeep initially refused, insisting the vehicles “met and exceeded all applicable requirements” of federal standards pertaining to fuel-system integrity. NHTSA then gave Chrysler a June 18 deadline to either issue a recall themselves, or be ordered to do so.

On the day of its deadline, Chrysler announced it would launch a campaign to inspect and, if necessary, fix the 2.7 million Jeeps — never officially referring to the action as a “recall.” Still, it’s technically a voluntary recall and therefore earns the distinction of being the biggest one this year.

Faulty airbags and airbag inflators are also common safety issues that have resulted in numerous recalls in 2013. Both Toyota and Honda were forced to recall several hundred thousand cars due to airbag issues. 

According to research, the biggest recalls affecting the U.S. market in 2013 are:

10. Chrysler, 442,000 vehicles: 2011-13 Chrysler Sebring, Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger sedans, as well as 2011-13 Jeep Liberty and 2011-12 Dodge Nitro SUVs, due to a report of a potential problem with the active head restraint function. 

9. BMW, 500,545 vehicles: 2008-12 1 Series cars, including coupes and convertibles, 2007-11 3 Series sedans, coupes, convertibles and wagons, and 2009-11 Z4 roadsters due to a potential electrical-system problem that could cause stalling.

8. Toyota, 510,000 vehicles: Toyota Corolla, Toyota Matrix, Toyota Sequoia, Toyota Tundra and Lexus SC 430 models manufactured between 2001 and 2003 (model year not specified in report) due to potentially faulty airbags in many cars. Toyota isn’t the only brand plagued by unsafe airbags. Look further down the list to see more cars that have been recalled for airbag issues.

7. Honda, 561,000 Honda vehicles: 2001-03 Civic sedans, 2002-03 CR-V compact crossovers and 2002 Odyssey minivans. Like Toyota, Honda has a major problem with potentially faulty airbags during these years.

6. Kia, 623,658 vehicles: 2007-10 Rondo and Sportage, 2007-11 Sorento, 2007 Sedona, 2010-11 Soul and 2011 Optima models due to malfunctioning brake lights.

5. Subaru, 633,842 vehicles: 2009-12 Forester, 2010-11 Legacy, 2010-11 Outback and 2006-12 Tribeca models to fix potential faulty lamp wiring that could cause a short circuit.

4. Honda, 748,000 vehicles: 2009-13 Pilot SUVs and 2011-13 Odyssey minivans due to a potential problem with the driver-side airbag that could cause improper deployment of vital safety features. 

3. Toyota, 752,000 vehicles: 2003-04 versions of the Toyota Corolla sedan and Matrix hatchback due to a faulty airbag control module.

2. Hyundai, more than 1 million vehicles: 2007-09 Accent and Tucson, 2007-10 Elantra, 2007-11 Santa Fe, 2008-09 Veracruz, 2010-11 Genesis Coupe and 2011 Sonata models as part of the same brake-light problem also affecting sister company Kia (No. 6).

1. Chrysler, 2.7 million vehicles: 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokees and 2002-07 Liberty models due to a potential fuel-system problem that could cause a fire risk in a rear-end crash.’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

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Former Assistant Managing Editor-News Matt Schmitz is a veteran Chicago journalist indulging his curiosity for all things auto while helping to inform car shoppers. Email Matt Schmitz

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